Referee Atkins in the mid-1970s
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Real name: Fred Atkinson
Born in Westport, New Zealand, Atkins was a champion wrestler in Australia in the 1940s before moving to North America in 1947. Was brought to the attention of San Francisco promoter Joe Malcewicz by former world champion Ed "Strangler" Lewis. Moved to Ontario in 1948 at age 38 and worked for Frank Tunney as a wrestler and referee for decades. Atkins trained several wrestlers, most notably Tiger Jeet Singh and Giant Baba. Was also a trainer for the NHL's Buffalo Sabres for a while in the 1970s, and worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1979-81.
Defeated former tag team partner Whipper Billy Watson for the British Empire title in 1949. Lost the title back to Watson later in the year. Wrestled NWA champion Lou Thesz in a Maple Leaf Gardens main event in 1949. Also wrestled Thesz for the title in Hamilton (1950), Ft. Worth (1951), San Antonio (1951), Richmond, Calif. (1953), Minneapolis (1955), and Saratoga Springs, NY (1955). Atkins and Ray Eckert traded the San Francisco world tag team title with the Canadian team of Mike & Ben Sharpe in 1952. Challenged Pat O'Connor the the NWA title in Toledo in 1959.
He continued to wrestle in Toronto until he was in his early 60s. His final match was in the summer of 1971. Atkins worked as a referee for years after that. He died in 1988 at age 77.
"Fred Atkins is a great ringman and combines a sound, experienced wrestling knowledge with a solid, hardy physique. He has a perfect build for a wrestler, standing 6'1" tall and weighing 250. He now makes his home in Crystal Beach, Ontario and is becoming a Canadian citizen."
(From WRESTLING AS YOU LIKE IT, Feb. 7, 1953)
"Fred Atkins, the "strong-man" from Sydney, Australia, is one of the real veterans of the mat sport. Here is a grappler in his middle 40s who can count his losses on his fingers and he is one of the strongest competitors in the business. Last September in Toledo he wrestled champion Pat O'Connor to a draw but almost stripped O'Connor of his title."
(From THE RING, April 1960)
- Australian champion, 1940; 1942-47
- British Empire champion (Toronto), 1949
- NWA World tag champion (San Francisco), with Ray Eckert, 1952